2023 NBA Mock Draft With Analysis – 2/21/23

Why was the All Star break so late in the season? I turn around and look and there is like 25 games left in the season. So, expect teams to either go hard after a playoff spot or tank like never before for the opportunity to land Big Victor.

Pick Team Player Stats Commentary
1 512019262015
Charlotte Hornets
C Victor Wembanyama, France – 7’4, 240 lbs 22.2 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.1 bpg No need to type up a team/player fit for Victor Wembanyama. He is 100% guaranteed to be the top pick. The most hyped prospect in years has lived up to the billing, with jaw dropping performances on national television. He is a legit 7’4 with the ball handling skills of a guard, a great shooting stroke and all defensive NBA potential. Just pray to the basketball gods that he can stay healthy. History has not been kind to players as tall as him. Charlotte might be the most hapless franchise in the NBA. Landing Wembanyama to go along with LaMelo Ball could save basketball in North Carolina.
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Orlando Magic
PG Scoot Henderson, USA/G-League – 6’3, 180 lbs 18.9 ppg, 5.8 apg, 4.5 rpg Scoot Henderson is more than just a consolation prize for whoever loses out on the top pick. He is an elite talent, and is a perfect fit as a 2023 NBA point guard. He is big, strong, an aggressive scorer and talented distributor and defender. He has 20/5/5 potential right out of the gate. The Magic have a great collection of bigs, and some intriguing guards, but no one in the back court with the upside of Henderson.
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San Antonio Spurs
SF Amen Thompson, USA/OT Elite – 6’7, 202 lbs 16.3 ppg, 6.2 apg, 6.4 rpg Amen Thompson needs to work on his jumpshot, and it is a legit concern that he is 20 years old playing against a bunch of high school kids, but he is a top notch athlete and may be the best on the ball defender in this class. Throw in his ability to be a true point guard and the total package makes him a very intriguing prospect. San Antonio has gotten a head start on the tanking, trading away Jakob Poeltl and losing 14 games in a row. They are perhaps the only team in the NBA with a current or future All Star talent on the roster. This draft is very important for the future of Spurs basketball.
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Detroit Pistons
SF Brandon Miller, Fr, Alabama – 6’9, 200 lbs 18.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.9 apg Brandon Miller is the best prospect in college basketball, and it is not particularly close. He has been a very consistent scorer all season, shooting over 42% from the three. Miller is the main reason Alabama is sitting pretty at 23-4 on the season. He is also a willing defender, basically the complete package as as a modern day small forward is concerned. The Pistons have a lot of young talent, but have not really improved the past couple of years.
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Houston Rockets
SF Ausar Thompson, USA/OT Elite – 6’7, 207 lbs 16.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 6.1 apg An extremely unimpressive freshman class means four non-college prospects headline this particular mock. Ausar Thompson has been just as impressive as his twin brother Amen. Scouts say he is not quite the athlete Ausar is, but also has the ability to be a defensive minded, athletic point forward that can do a ton of little things to help his team win. Houston is still running out a Kevin Porter/Jalen Green back court, but it is obvious that that duo is simply not going to work. A lunchpail, do a bit of everything type like Ausar Thompson would be a welcome addition.
6 22448122018
Indiana Pacers
PF Jarace Walker, Fr, Houston – 6’8, 240 lbs 11.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.8 apg The stats may not blow anyone away, but Jarace Walker has been fantastic for one of the four best teams in the country. He is shooting 50% from the field, 39% from the arc, and has the ability to rebound, block some shots and handle the ball like a point forward. If he was playing for another team that needed to feature him more, he would be a household name. After Brandon Miller, Walker is probably the top prospect playing college basketball right now. The Pacers have a few good players, but Jalen Smith absolutely needs to be upgraded in the front court. Walker would be an instant fit.
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Orlando Magic
SG Nick Smith Jr., Fr, Arkansas – 6’5, 185 lbs 12.8 ppg, 1.8 apg, 1.8 rpg From CHI
It has been a freshman season to forget for Nick Smith Jr. He missed time to start the year and now may be done for the season with a knee injury. I still find it hard to believe he will fall out of the top ten, however. He is a very gifted scorer, and every team in the NBA is clamoring for guards who can get their own offense. Orlando already scooped up Henderson with their first pick, and adding a talent like Smith Jr. would be quite a coup.
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New Orleans Pelicans
SG Keyonte George, Fr, Baylor – 6’4, 185 lbs 16.6 ppg, 3.0 apg, 4.5 rpg From LAL
Keyonte George has struggled with consistency and shot selection, but he is the type of player I believe will be better once he gets to the NBA and can play a more free-flowing type of offensive game. The Pelicans have playoff aspirations, but George would be a nice change of pace type player off the bench.
9 22770242021
Toronto Raptors
SF Gradey Dick, Fr, Kansas – 6’8, 205 lbs 14.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.6 apg Other than Brandon Miller, perhaps no freshman has been as consistent and impressive as Gradey Dick. He has ideal size, length and the shooting stroke to be a real asset offensively. He is a better athlete than expected, and is a surprisingly effective defender. Dick is an easy fit for any team. Who knows what the Raptors are going to look like next year.
10 23997252018
Portland Trail Blazers
SF Cam Whitmore, Fr, Villanova – 6’7, 232 lbs 12.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.6 spg Villanova is struggling like never before, and Cam Whitmore has been hit and miss in the early going, but he has a great deal of potential. He is tough, a strong slashing scorer and solid defender. You will have to do some projection here, but if he develops, you could have a guy who can score, shoot and barrel over weaker defenders. The Trail Blazers still need players who can compliment Damian Lillard, who seems to want to do everything alone.
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Washington Wizards
PG Anthony Black, Fr, Arkansas – 6’7, 198 lbs 13.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.2 apg Anthony Black is a unique prospect. He is big and strong, a solid scorer with a better than anticipated jump shot. He plays solid defense, and can absolutely run the point guard position full time. He still needs to be more consistent offensively, but the potential is there to be a starting point guard in this league. Washington has had a hole at the position since John Wall’s injuries started piling up.
12 23485132023
Utah Jazz
PG Cason Wallace, Fr, Kentucky – 6’4, 193 lbs 11.8 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.7 rpg Cason Wallace is not super exciting, but he is a solid scorer who can knock down threes. His calling card, however, is defense. He is already an NBA calibur peremiter defender, racking up 2 steals per game. I seriously doubt the Jazz want Collin Sexton to be the starting point guard long term.
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Oklahoma City Thunder
PF Kris Murray, Jr, Iowa – 6’8, 225 lbs 20.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.7 apg Kris Murray is looking like a spitting image of his twin brother Keegan. He should average 20 ppg for Iowa this year, showing the same type of offensive game that landed his broter in the lottery. The only worry is that he will be 23 by the time the season starts, but that is not a huge concern at this point in the draft. I am sure the Thunder front office was hoping to tank for another year or two, but the dynamic back court of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey have had other ideas. With Chet Holmgren joining the team next year, the time could be now.
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Golden State Warriors
SF Brice Sensabaugh, Fr, Ohio State – 6’6, 235 lbs 16.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.6 spg Ohio State stinks this year, but that is not due to Brice Sensabaugh, who has consistently shot the ball all season. His shooting percentages are fantastic, and although he has not been asked to do much but score, he has the ability to rebound and play defense as well. His shooting is his calling card here, and he should get a lot of open looks on a Warriors team that might need to start relying on some young players soon.


Atlanta Hawks
PF GG Jackson II, Fr, South Carolina – 6’9, 215 lbs 15.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 0.7 bpg GG Jackson II, one of the youngest players in college basketball, is holding his own on an over-matched South Carolina team. He is a great athlete who can score off lobs and put backs, and his perimeter shot has been promising. He also has had some immaturity issues, but I chalk that up to a very young player trying to do everything for a terrible team. The Hawks often draft the best freshman available, and go the same route here.
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Utah Jazz
SF Dariq Whitehead, Fr, Duke – 6’7, 220 lbs 8.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.3 apg From MIN
Like the rest of the Blue Devils, Dariq Whitehead has struggled with consistency during his limited playing time. The talent is still there, however. At his best he could be a high volume scorer from the wing positions. The Jazz have a plethora of picks the next few years, and this is the type of player they should occasionally target.
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Los Angeles Lakers
SG Colby Jones, Jr, Xavier – 6’6, 205 lbs 14.9 ppg, 4.7 apg, 5.1 rpg From NO
Colby Jones has exploded on the scene as a junior, doing it all for Xavier. He is a great shooter who can really get after things defensively. He is the type of upperclassmen that playoff contenders look for, as he is cheap labor, so to speak. The Lakers, especially, struggle badly with depth. Jones could help right away.
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New York Knicks
SG Julian Strawther, Jr, Gonzaga – 6’7, 205 lbs 15.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 0.8 spg From DAL
I knew there was a reason I have been banging the table for Julian Strawther all year. Already with a 40 point game on his resume, he is coming off of 26, 28 and 28 point games. Gonzaga suddenly finds itself at 23-5 on the season and Strawther’s three point percentage has skyrocketed. Any playoff team would love a guy who can come off the bench and drop buckets like Strawther. New York’s Coach Thibs might actually play him as a rookie.


Brooklyn Nets
C Dereck Lively II, Fr, Duke – 7’1, 230 lbs 4.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg From PHX
Derek Lively II has struggled mightily at times, as has the rest of the Duke Blue Devels, but has flashed the type of ability that made him the top ranked recruit in the country. The question is, how valuable is a big man who does not score in today’s NBA? At his best, Lively looks like a Tyson Chandler clone, with the coveted ability to block shots and rebound by the boatload. Brooklyn has no depth behind Nicolas Claxton, and there would not be much of  dropoff defensively if Lively backs him up.


Houston Rockets
SF Jett Howard, Fr, Michigan – 6’8, 215 lbs 14.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.1 apg From LAC
Jett Howard has been solid as a freshman on a struggling team, but at this point, he does not offer much other than shooting. He does have ability to block some shots and handle the ball, and would be yet another young piece for a Rockets team that is still searching for an identity.
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Miami Heat
SF Taylor Hendricks, Fr, UCF – 6’9, 210 lbs 14.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.7 bpg While so many top freshman have struggled, a little known Central Florida recruit named Taylor Hendricks has exploded. He fits the new age power forward archetype to a tee. He can run the floor, block shots and score out to three point range. The Heat are criminally undersized, and the South Florida native could be a perfect fit.
22 23997252018
Portland Trail Blazers
C Kyle Filipowski, Fr, Duke – 7’0, 230 lbs 15.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.2 spg Kyle Filipowski is not overly athletic or strong, but he is already showing the ability to grab rebounds, knock down jump shots and play passing lanes on defense. He could have a nice career as a backup stretch-type big man. Portland center Jusuf Nurkic will probably be a daily game time decision for the rest of his career, making depth important.


Sacramento Kings
SG Maxwell Lewis, So, Pepperdine – 6’7, 195 lbs 17.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.8 apg Gonzaga is not the only WCC team that produces NBA products. In 2022 it was Jalen Williams of Santa Clara, and this year Pepperdine’s Maxwell Lewis looks like a legitimate talent. He is basically the complete package as a wing, able to handle the ball, shoot and play some great defense. The Kings look like they will end the longest playoff drought in the NBA, meaning they get to draft for depth, for once.
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Brooklyn Nets
PF DaRon Holmes II, So, Dayton – 6’10, 225 lbs 17.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.8 bpg DaRon Holmes II was perhaps the highest rated Dayton recruit ever, and he has been as good as advertised. Holmes is coming off of three straight double doubles and has the look of a young Bobby Portis. He is not a pure three point shooter, but can score, rebound and block shots. With Derek Lively II and Holmes, bench size in Brooklyn is suddenly a strength.
25 23143732019
Memphis Grizzlies
SG Terquavion Smith, So, NC State – 6’4, 165 lbs 18.5 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.4 rpg Terquavion Smith has not improved much from a solid freshman year, still struggling to shoot over 40%. He is the majority of the offense for a surpsing NC State team, however, and does a lot of things even when his shot is not falling. He may max out as a Lou Williams type, but he could battle for Sixth Man of the Year awards during his prime. Any team would love his instant offense off of the bench.
26 22448122018
Indiana Pacers
SG Rayan Rupert, France – 6’6, 192 lbs 7.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.9 spg From CLE
Rayan Rupert is a long way from being a productive NBA player, but he is young and versatile, and could be a nice 3 and D player if he develops. The Pacers have three first round picks and would have no issue throwing him to the G-League wolves to slowly develop.
27 23485132023
Utah Jazz
PF Noah Clowney, Fr, Alabama – 6’10, 210 lbs 9.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg From PHI
Brandon Miller has not quite been a one man show for Alabama. Fellow lanky freshman Noah Clowney has been great as well. A project ofensively, he offers nice potential as a rebounder and shot blocker, and can knock down jump shots as well. Make it three freshmen with upside for the Jazz in this mock exercise.
28 512019262015
Charlotte Hornets
SF Emoni Bates, So, Eastern Michigan – 6’10, 170 lbs 20.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.5 apg From DEN
Hey look, it is Emoni Bates. Remember this guy? The former “Next LeBron James” is putting up very strong, efficient numbers for a terrible Eastern Michigan team. It is not always easy for a talent to put up efficient numbers when the team is overmatched, ask Patrick Baldwin Jr., but Bates has been great. I am still not sure if a team will take the plunge in the first round, but the Hornets need talent desperately.
29 23637762019
Los Angeles Clippers
PG Marcus Sasser, Sr, Houston – 6’2, 195 lbs 16.7 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.7 rpg From MIL
Marcus Sasser is not the most efficient or a natural “true” point guard, but he is athletic, can play some great defense and should be able to play right away. The Clippers once again will punt the draft, as they moved down to the very end of the first round. In theory, Sasser would make a nice backup point guard on a veteran laden squad.
30 22448122018
Indiana Pacers
PF Trayce Jackson-Davis, Sr, Indiana – 6’9, 245 lbs 20.5 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 3.6 apg From BOS
Every basketball fan in the state of Indiana would love this pick. Trayce Jackson-Davis, an Indiana native, has been one of the best Hoosiers of all time. A nightly double double threat, he may not be athletic enough to hold up full time as an NBA starter, but could be a Montrezl Harrell guy off of the bench. He would instantly be a fan favorite for the Pacers.

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